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Post Round The World

Midnight of August 15, 2012, the last flight of my round the world trip touched down Ninoy Aquino International Airport, making the official count on the number of consecutive days away from home, 435. What a ride it had been!

For many people 14 months of traveling would seem like a long time. Some of my relatives couldn’t even begin to imagine how it is done.

“What are you going to do about your laundry?” one of my aunt asked.  “How much clothes are you bringing with you? Oh my god, you’re going to be wearing the same thing over and over again.”  a horrified cousin exclaimed.  The whole scenario still so fresh in my mind yet too soon, I was on my last flight home. Hell, it’s been a month since I’m back.

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How is it being home?

Is clearly everyone’s first question. Curiously it was so normal. I really thought it’s going to be a lot stranger. I knew it–one year isn’t long enough!  So apart from the weeklong jetlag, I pretty much got back into the groove of things right away. I’m at the office the day after, picking up right where my sister Candie left off as she took her turn on holiday.

Later I realized why. Why should it be hard for me to adjust being back, if at all, when my whole trip is a constant change. On the average, I’m in one place for 5 days and then I’m off to a new city, or country, or continent. But neither am I always on a rush somewhere. Sometimes I stay put longer, like I was in San Jose, Costa Rica  for a whole month with my hostel stint. In Sucre, Bolivia more than 2 weeks studying Spanish. So it’s not like I feel imprisoned staying in one place for more than a week.  I’d have sporadic yearnings for my traveling life, missing the extreme freedom, the anonymity and the constantly changing tomorrows, but generally I’m fine being home. At the moment, at least.

The Traveling Life

While I didn’t need time to adjust being back, I have to say it took some time to get used to the idea of long term traveling life.  In fact, I remember that when I met Raz in Tel-Aviv (my first stop), I felt like a poser. About 4 years before, we met in the Philippines while he was backpacking Asia. It was funny, for both of us, sitting across each other in a restaurant, this time our roles reversed. Maybe he felt a little bit of a poser (yuppie) himself.  It must be the Catholic cum middle-class Chinese family upbringing that sends me nagging guilt for being so free of responsibilities.

Acclimation, however, is my middle name. Soon I am so at home on the road that it’s normal to have cavity inducing mint tea for breakfast in Marrakech, and the richest Belgian chocolate for dinner in Brussels.  From cursing that 15kg bag is too much crossing Jordan to complaining of  having nothing to wear in London in a matter of days. When I met my other friends in Europe, I no longer have sense of days and date.

The day to day were so strikingly different that I could be sitting for hours looking at hundred flights trying to make it in time to the carnaval in Salvador de Bahia or chasing after a sign that says “meteor crater” in Steinheim. I would be drinking different local beers every night in different towns for a whole week or dancing at different salsa clubs every night the whole week. I could be lounging at posh Ibiza hotels with character or couchsurfing in a bedouin cave in the middle of nowhere, floating in the dead sea or swimming in aligator infested river. I could be going into savasana to the fiery sunset of Mancora or catching the glorious sunrise in the desert of Sahara on a camel.

Never ever before in my life that I only have to care about what I want in every single thing that I do.  For the first time in my life, I don’t have to worry about classes to miss, work to answer for, or what to tell my mother. I can take off in a moment’s notice without the care in the world.  I can take my time to leap off a bridge bungee jumping or decide at a flip of a switch to spend 5 months budget on a week diving spree. I have gotten off a bus because my seat mate told me there’s an amazing church in this tiny town. I jumped. I dived. I climbed. I biked. I hiked. I danced. I got drunk. I got high. I ate guinea pig (eww!) And yet sometimes, the most productive thing I did the whole week is to send home a postcard. And it’s fine because it’s my trip.

The freedom is exhilarating. I am made for this. Sometimes I get breathless. Not because of the thin air at 5,000 meters above sea level, but with the realization that I was living my grandest dream.

 

Life Changing?

If you have followed my trip for a while, you’d know I’ve been obsessing about this concept. I’ve declared in my  2011 year end post that my trip hasn’t changed my life and hasn’t changed me. A woman I met traveling suggested that I wait until I come back and see.

On the surface level, for sure I have changed. Physically I got darker and skinnier, for which I’m happy. Because the usual configuration is “men lose weight traveling while women gain them.”  I got more fit with better stamina from all the physical work out I subjected myself to while in South America. I learned to speak Spanish. I developed a liking to salsa (dancing). I’m also no longer clueless in the kitchen.

I am sure too that (at least) on a microscopic level, I am changed within. For how can one be exposed to so many different cultures & experiences and not be changed at all?  I suppose that even in so admitting, I am already changed from 235 days ago. Maybe in the way I make decisions now or how I react to certain situations I am a little bit different.

As for “my life” changing? Steven Jobs said in his Stanford commencement speech that “dots can only be connected looking backwards; and not forward”. I get it. I remember using my sister Pincky as an example of life changing experience, where she went to Japan on an exchange program at age 18 and now lives in Tokyo (2011 year end post). Yes, obviously she didn’t move to Japan one month after she came back from the exchange program.

 

Future Plans (travels, blog, etc.)

Round the World 2? someone asked in wanderlass facebook page. I would go in a heartbeat. But geez, I haven’t even completely unpacked yet. My room is a total mess. But to be completely honest, I believe that the kind of travel I did last year is a once in a life time thing. Don’t get me wrong, there will be trips. I’m going to be packing my bags again and long term traveling is something I love doing. But I think I will not be planning for another round the world trip. But then again, if there is one thing I learned from this experience, it’s NEVER SAY NEVER.

This blog has been around way before my round the world trip so I will definitely continue to keep it running. I know I was delinquent in posting during my trip, so I plan to be back-blogging some of the amazing experiences I missed. Yeah right, whatever. Expect me to be milking this RTW for all its worth. If Che Guevara published The Motorcycle Diaries 26 years after his travel, there’s no reason for me to think I’m too good for backlogs. ;-)

RTW stats post will come in the next couple of days, as this is getting to be so long. It will also be easier for those who hate statistics to just ignore the post completely as it will contain useless (but cool!) info regarding my RTW. :-)

Finally, please stay tuned for contests, meet & greets, and other exciting activities that are being planned in cooperation with our adventure partners R.O.X. Eagle Creek, Columbia (and other sponsors).

 

 

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45 Responses to Post Round The World

  1. katrinacoloma 05/14/2014 at 1:29 pm #

    Just stumbled upon your blog recently and your RTW adventure put a smile on my face! I’m gonna be backpacking in South East Asia for 3 months this June and I really hope to do the RTW trip someday. Happy travels and thank you for inspiring us! :)

  2. sam 05/08/2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Same question previously (which i think was left unanswered?). How much did you spend on your 434 claimed days of travel?

    • wanderlass 05/09/2013 at 3:10 pm #

      It is answered in the next post with statistics — anyway the answer is $45K

  3. Shivya 09/22/2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Came here from Suzy Guese’s blog. What a wonderful adventure it seems you’ve had. Too bad I found your blog at the end of your RTW, but can’t wait to read all that I’ve missed :) Great writing.

    • wanderlass 09/24/2012 at 3:59 am #

      Thanks Shivya. I’ve missed a lot of post as well as traveling and blogging so much harder than it seems. So I’l be back blogging and at the same time feel like traveling to the place again.

  4. Suzy 09/22/2012 at 11:54 am #

    You have certainly had a lifetime full of adventures in 14 months! I really like your attitude about coming home. Rather than being so depressed to be home, as many can be when returning from travel, it seems to me you are embracing the time you had on the road rather than looking at it in envy back home.

    • wanderlass 09/24/2012 at 3:57 am #

      that’s right. no post travel blues and while traveling I don’t miss home at all. I’m happy that I’m able to embrace the present always! thanks for the feedback.

  5. darwin 09/22/2012 at 6:17 am #

    welcome back Lilian :) Im so happy for you. Parang kelan lang eh ang buong pwersa ng PTB eh nasa ROX para sa send off party mo :)

    • wanderlass 09/24/2012 at 3:55 am #

      Thank u Darwin. Oo nga ang bilis diba? Pls.wait for it, we’re organizing a comeback thingy sa ROX. So see u again :)

  6. Cez Prieto 09/22/2012 at 6:31 am #

    Wow!RTW in 14 months! Hamazing! I’m beyond words. I hope I can also get to meet you and hear more about your travel stories around the world.

    • wanderlass 09/24/2012 at 3:56 am #

      Hi Cez, we’ll have meet and greet soon. please keep posted. cheers!

  7. Cla 09/20/2012 at 9:10 am #

    It was nice meeting you on the road and also after you came home! Your RTW trip introduced me to places I never thought I’d dream of visiting. Loved hearing your stories! Breakfast at 4pm again soon :-)

    • wanderlass 09/21/2012 at 10:18 am #

      It was so nice to meet u Cla. You’re so daldal and should start ur own blog. Breakfast soon!

  8. Lifeisacelebration 09/20/2012 at 5:31 am #

    Welcome back. And congratulations. Been following your blogs and “traveling” with you. Wish I have the same confidence to swim, dive and bungee-jump. Too late now. Or may be not? But really, that was an awesome journey, Lilliane.

    • wanderlass 09/20/2012 at 5:51 am #

      For me it’s only too late when one is dead. And since we don’t know when death comes, there’s no better time than now to live an extraordinary life. I don’t only mean traveling, it’s whatever it is that you want. Thank you for following my journey! :)

  9. doi | the travelling feet 09/20/2012 at 12:46 am #

    welcome home lilian! congrats for living your dream. you’re really an inspiration to people like me who dreams of travelling the world someday. reading through your posts kinda transports me to those places you visited. can’t wait for your next destination! ;-)

    • wanderlass 09/20/2012 at 5:54 am #

      Thank you, Doi. I’m sure you’ll live your dream soon. Just want it bad enough. :)

  10. kimiviajera 09/19/2012 at 9:38 pm #

    wow, it’s so inspiring to hear your RTW story! left me wondering on your life as a wanderer for more than a year. cool! hope I can do that someday.

  11. Carla 09/19/2012 at 10:18 am #

    Lilian! I’ve been following your blog ever since you started this RTW. It’s been my dream as well! You’re such an inspiration :)

    • wanderlass 09/19/2012 at 11:22 am #

      Thank you Carla. I’m happy to know that I inspire in some small ways. :)

  12. may 09/19/2012 at 10:09 am #

    your story is an inspiration, if only i can also leave our family business like you did and go around the world. we’ve got some common friends, i can’t wait to ask ‘em about your trip! hehe :)

    • wanderlass 09/19/2012 at 11:18 am #

      You should read my “a case of wanderlust” post which would hopefully inspire you to just go for it. Who is our common friend? You can come ask me when we have a meet and greet!

  13. Anon ymous 09/19/2012 at 9:43 am #

    How much have you spent on the whole RTW travel?

  14. thepinaysolobackpacker 09/19/2012 at 12:59 am #

    congrats Lilian! so glad to see you happy and home safe. we sure love to hear more of your stories! :)

  15. thelighttraveler 09/18/2012 at 7:50 am #

    Welcome back! What an inspiring journey you took! I hope to have an RTW – or at least a European – adventure one of these days too. Hoping to meet you someday while you’re here in the Philippines. =)

    • wanderlass 09/18/2012 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks, Claire! I’m sure your dream trip will happen. Just keep wanting it. Cheers!

  16. silverprodigy 09/17/2012 at 9:25 pm #

    LOLed on the poser part… i guess it does start like that and you just gradually progress to not giving a shit. ;-p

    oh, and yes, darker and skinnier suits you!

    anyway, welcome back and i’m sure you’ll be packing up for another trip (maybe antartica) some time soon.

  17. Caroline 09/17/2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Welcome home. I’ve been a fan of you and your blog since the beginning. Rock on!

  18. Nina 09/17/2012 at 11:11 am #

    Wheee! Nasama kami sa collage!

    It was amazing to hear your stories Lilliane, and I’m sure a lot more are excited to hear about them! I can’t remember if I told you this at Breton, but you look amazing! Traveling suits you so well :D

    • wanderlass 09/17/2012 at 8:10 pm #

      thanks Nina! 1 chinese adage goes, one of life’s greatest joy is to find a countryman in a foreign land. It was indeed a pleasure traveling with u and Cla! breakfast soon!

  19. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures 09/17/2012 at 9:41 am #

    What an awesome post! I’m so proud of you for following your dreams and kicking butt!!!!!!!!! You are an inspiration.

    • wanderlass 09/17/2012 at 8:15 pm #

      Thank you, Andi! Cheers to life’s beautiful adventures. x

  20. DJ Yabis 09/17/2012 at 7:58 am #

    YAY. Meet and Greet soon! Haha

    • wanderlass 09/17/2012 at 8:16 pm #

      if u ever come home! :)

  21. The Sunset Goddess 09/16/2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Welcome home LIlian! I’ve been following your posts and I can’t wait to hear more of your RTW adventures :) This is such an inspiring post and you’re so lucky to be able to do it!

    • wanderlass 09/16/2012 at 10:42 pm #

      I feel so lucky being able to live my dream. I am thankful everyday. Thank you for traveling with me! :-)

  22. R.U.Gironella 09/16/2012 at 5:25 pm #

    Jezzz…I’ve been following your RTW and was kinda sad it had ended; been a fan of yours since i discovered your info about visas were spot on. I would like to see those statistics though.

    • wanderlass 09/16/2012 at 9:26 pm #

      Thank you R. It means a lot to know that you were with me on the trip. I will put up stats in the next 2 days! :)

  23. banggigay 09/16/2012 at 4:54 pm #

    one solid example of how changed you are:
    you wont even consider joining a race back then, now in a snap you registered for a trail run. not only that, you even committed yourself to running a marathon!

    but it can only be beautiful transformations after rtw :-)

    • wanderlass 09/16/2012 at 9:55 pm #

      Ha Ha, yes I am changed like that. If the trail is less than 9 hours, I can definitely do it. :)

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